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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I'm No Scrooge...

I have been sick this week. Bean has been sick this week. Ash was sick last week. Over the past three days my holiday spirit has come crashing down! I can almost hear myself saying, "BAH HUMBUG!"

I don't want to be that person. I'm not that person!

I shouldn't allow this funk to take the fun out of the season for me. I shouldn't worry that presents aren't bought and/or wrapped. I shouldn't be upset that I am missing out on some things I had on our calendar. I shouldn't be stressed about getting it all done in time.

I should be taking these days on the couch, under a blanket to count my blessings...

That my family is basically healthy. (We may share germs now and then but we don't have the worries that so many others do.)

That we live under one roof.

That I am able to be a stay at home mom.

That we may not have as much as when I was working but that we still have what we need.

That we have friends that would jump in to help us on any day at any time.

That we have love...even on the bad days.

That we have laughter.

That we have each other.

From our family to yours...

If you find yourself in a funk like me this week, work through it. Don't let it take the warmth, wonder and magic out of the holiday. Count your blessings and tell your family and friends how truly grateful you are to have them in your lives. 'Tis the season!

I am going to take a few days off here and there over the next two weeks to spend some time with my family and friends. I hope all of you know how much I appreciate all of the support given to me through this blog!

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.
Charles Dickens ~A Christmas Carol

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Surprise Run in With Santa...

We went to the 8:00 mass at our church on Sunday. Yes, it was early. Yes, the girls looked like zombies walking out to the car. Yes, we told them that if they could pull it off without complaining and fully participated in mass then we would take them out for breakfast afterwards.

Little did we know that Santa was still making visits to one of our favorite breakfast spots. We walked in, placed our order and began our search for a table. That is when we spotted the jolly man in the red suit and hat with rosy cheeks.

After we claimed our table, we got in line with the girls to visit Santa. They weren't bouncing off the walls excited like they did when they were younger. They were calm, like they were in line to visit an old friend.

When it was their turn they approached Santa with warm smiles that made a smile instantly appear on my face. Santa welcomed them with a friendly Ho Ho Ho and asked them how they were doing. Then he asked if they had been getting along as sisters.

Santa directing his conversation
toward Ash

He turned to Ash on this as if it was on his list of things to ask her about before putting her on the nice or naughty list. As much as Ash loves Bean, she can sometimes be the bossy, big sister. She can also snap at Bean sometimes and not even realize she is doing it. Bean tends to take it with ease most times because she knows that Ash loves her and isn't like that 97% of the time. Ash admitted to Santa that she isn't always the best big sister and said she would try harder.

Santa turned his attention to Bean
Bean said that she would be a good sister too. With that Santa moved them to the nice list and ask what they wanted for Christmas. My girls always see things they like but when it comes time for anyone to ask them what they want...they can barely name a thing. This happens every year! I guess it is a good thing though. It means they really don't "need" anything and that they are happy with whatever they get and aren't greedy children.

Ash, Bean & Santa

Santa wished them a Merry Christmas and politely reminded them to get along before asking the girls to leave him a cookie and a glass of milk.

As we left the restaurant, not only was my stomach full but my heart was left full with the memory of my two beautiful, honest girls with the magic of Christmas sparkling in their eyes.

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Monday, December 19, 2011

The Little Black Dress...

Well, I did it!!! I can't thank all of you enough for your support on my last minute, mad dash to the mall to find an outfit to wear on Friday evening's cocktail party. My husband thanks you too! HE LOVED IT!!!

As I was racing through the mall from store to store among the mass of holiday shoppers, trying on tons of clothes (which I despise...the lighting is horrible, mirrors angled three ways are an awful thing to do to anyone and the sales people tell you lies to get a sale) and feeling defeated, I would hear my phone alert me of a new email. Those emails were all of your comments with support and advice and it gave me the strength (along with my Coke Zero) to keep going and find something that was not only very pretty but super comfy!!

I ended up finding a dress in Lord & Taylor that was made out of that comfy, bouncy yet silky material (my fashion knowledge is obviously lacking). It was black (score! black looks good on everyone!), they had my size and it was on sale. It wasn't just on was on sale, marked down again and then another 40% off of that price. I ended up getting a dress that was originally $158.00 for $40.00 (I rounded...there was some change but it was minimal). YIPPEE SKIPPEE!!!

This dress even made me happy in the fitting room with white tube socks on! (A girl has to wear sneakers when she is on a mission like I was!)

So, I headed home and got myself ready and this is what I ended up looking like as I headed out for an evening filled with friends, a lot of fun & a husband who complimented me all night long...

Notice the comfy elastic waist
A BIG smile because I found something
I not only loved for the cocktail party
but can wear again & again
Now, if only I could take you all with me the next time I head out shopping for myself! Thanks again, everyone!

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Amazing Photography by Olympus PEN® E-PM1...

My husband and I have had the same camera for 12 years. It has served us well but with all of the new advancements in cameras...I am getting the itch for a new one.

After visiting the site for The PEN Ready Project from Olympus, I am putting the PEN® E-PM1 on my Christmas list. It is small, light and is ready to go whenever I am. As a parent who doesn't want to miss anything, that sounds just dreamy! It has 6 built in Art Filters, a 3D Shooting Feature and it can record up to 29 minutes of HD video & stereo sound. (I know, awesome right?!)

Olympus gave away 1,000 Olympus PEN® E-PM1 to 1,000 people to show everyone how simple it is to take the most breathtaking shots. It's all part of The PEN Ready Project. They were handed out in over 6 different cities.  To see what they shot, go to Trust me, you won't want to miss it! I am still in awe of the photos that have been uploaded!

This post is sponsored by Olympus.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Cocktail Party Outfit Panic Mode...

Why oh why do I dislike shopping for myself so much?! I have a cocktail party to attend this evening with my husband at a friend's home. Do you think I have anything to wear?! Ummm...the answer would big a huge NO!!!

I went shopping with two of my friends on Wednesday and I bought a metallic grey sequined skirt and a black top that had the side of the shoulders cut out. I wasn't in love with it but my friends said I looked good in it and it was a fun outfit. It was definitely out of my comfort zone but for those of you who know comfort zone is pretty boring. I tend to wear sweats, yoga pants, jeans, cargos and pjs.

My standard comfy clothes

I wanted to look nice for this party. Not so that I could show off to all of the invited guests but because I wanted to look nice for my husband. To me, nothing means more than a compliment coming from him. I love when I can feel him watching me from across the room. There have been times where I wait with anticipation for him to come over and whisper something into my ear. All of those times I have waited, he has. I feel more confident when he thinks I look nice. I feel more relaxed too.

So, here is where the panic sets in. As I said, I wasn't in love with the outfit I brought home. Chris asked me to try it on for him. Right away he asked me why I had my arms crossed. Then he told me that I didn't look comfortable in it. He did back up that statement with a "That would look great for dancing but I don't think it is what you are going for at this party."

He was right. This is just too flashy for me and when I don't feel shows. It shows up more than black spilled ink on a white coat!

So, what will I be doing this afternoon in a mad panic after I have taken care of all of my other obligations?! (and there are is the holiday season after all) I will be racing through the mall trying to find something that screams my name!! (Oh and doesn't cost a million dollars. I'm a SAHM on a budget, remember?)

Wish me luck!! I'm gonna need it!!

Have you ever waited until the last minute to find an outfit to wear to something special? Do you have a "go-to" store where you know you can find something? Have you ever ruined your night out just because you went with an outfit you weren't so sure about?

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Holiday Magic...

I'll admit it...this time of year tends to make me emotional. I can hear a Christmas song on the radio and feel the hair on my arms stand up. I can glimpse a commercial about a family being apart over the holidays and I feel a lump in my throat. I can watch "Yes, Virginia" with my girls and bawl my eyes out.

This time of year makes my heart grow three sizes just like it did to the Grinch when he heard the Whos singing Christmas morning, hand in hand, even after their presents and decorations had been stolen. This time of year is when I look for the good in people and let go of the bad.

I've always enjoyed the holidays as an adult but they have truly come to life again since the birth of my daughters. Seeing things through their eyes brings back the magic and wonder.

Christmas lights decorating houses were just something that I drove by and gave a hurried glance to before my girls. Now I slow and point out the detail and ask them their favorite house on the particular street we are on. Now I go the "long way" to/from our destination so they can see as many lights as possible before all of the houses go dark again for a year.

The tree and reindeer in our
front yard

Putting the ornaments some years seemed a chore for me. I loved the finished product but I didn't want to take the time to unwrap the ornaments and hang them all. Now my girls sit with me and get excited with each ornament that unveils itself from behind the tissue paper or bubble wrap. We go over the history of it and then search for the best place for it to go on our tree.

Some of the ornaments on
our Christmas tree

Starting new traditions, like the Advent Ornament Tower, that my MIL sent to my girls brings even more warmth and excitement. They wake each morning asking the date, rush to their own small tree to open the box in the tower, find their new ornament and decorate their tree day by day. It is a wonderful way to share in the fun of counting down the days until Christmas with them.

Ash & Bean decorating their
own tree with the Advent Tower

The Christmas surprise of searching and finding Candy Cane, our Elf on the Shelf, has become a lot of fun. I love to hear them laugh about what he is doing when they find him and their thoughts about what he did and said at his report to Santa the night before.

Candy Cane on one of my
favorite Christmas

Just as I have been trying to slow down and enjoy the minutes of our every day, I am trying to do the same during the holiday. I don't want my girls to miss a thing. I don't want to miss a thing. It is easy to get caught up in the rushing around with all that has to be done and all that is on our calendars but we are making an effort. We are sitting down to dinner at our table (even if it is with Chickfila), lighting our Advent wreath and saying our prayers as a family.

Our family made Advent wreath

We will not let the holiday magic slip away and we will welcome every holiday surprise! I wish for all of you to enjoy this holiday magic and that you hold it close to your heart! The holiday spirit is there if you let it in!

This post is sponsored by T-Mobile

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas Shopping for my Husband...

I've asked my husband for a list this year. His deadline is tomorrow morning before he heads out to work at o' dark thirty.

Here's the thing...will anything on that list be enough for the way I feel about him?

I'm sure his list will include hiking socks, a guitar music book, sunglasses and/or an itunes gift card.

This year, more than any for a while, I want to do something more than just purchase gifts that he could go out and by himself.

I want to show him how much I appreciate his support when it came time for me to either dedicate my Friday afternoons/evenings to my career or resign and he told me to resign and be a stay at home mom.

I want to show him how much I adore that he pushed me to find something for myself and told me to stop just reading blogs and create my own.

I want to show him how much pride I had in my heart when he would tell me, "Great game." after coaching my field hockey team (win or lose).

I want to show him how I respect his work ethic and feel my heart warm when his colleagues speak of his dedication and intelligence.

I want to show him how I feel that he is one of the best fathers out there.

Ash, Chris & Bean

I want to show him how much I love him and that I am not only grateful that he asked me to marry him but that even through some of the roughest days that he wants to be with me for the rest of my life.

Our Wedding Day

What do I give this man who is not only a wonderful husband but gave me the two most precious gifts ever?

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dasher & Dancer & The Preppy Girl in Pink...

I know, the song does not name The Preppy Girl in Pink as one of the reindeer that help guide Santa's sleigh throughout Christmas Eve delivering presents to all of the boys and girls but I am leading to something fun.

I am linking up with KLZ at Taming Insanity for her "Antler Up" link up. She wanted to bring the fun into the holiday and I liked the idea so much that I decided to join in. All you have to do is link up with a picture of you or something (anything long as it is G-rated) in a pair of antlers.

So, here I am with my antlers...

The Preppy Girl in Pink Reindeer
Christmas season of 2007
My husband took this picture of me in 2007 as we were on a tree farm with my brothers as they searched for their trees. I found this branch and immediately put it to my head as antlers. I totally cracked myself up too! (I tend to do that...a lot, even when no one else finds it funny!)

Here's to enjoying some good ol' holiday fun!!

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Monday, December 12, 2011

We Need More Victories Over Cancer...

Bean & Ash
My daughters have very big hearts and have stolen mine. They may bicker now and then but they are each other's best friend. In my heart I believe that they always will be because just a few years ago they witnessed incredible sadness. A sadness that even though they were very young has left a very vivid imagery in their minds and very strong feeling in their hearts.

My daughters watched my Mom grieve over the loss of her big sister. Just like Ash & Bean, my Mom and her big sister were the only children in their family. They had their ups & downs like all siblings but they also loved each other very much.

My Aunt had a very long battle with a very rare bone cancer. It wasn't a surprise when we got the call that she had passed but it still was not one that my Mom was ready for. Since I am very close with my Mom all I wanted to do was comfort her. One way I knew to put a smile on her face was for her to see my girls.

When we arrived at my parents' house, my girls knew that their Grandma would be upset and they thought they knew what that would look like as they had just witnessed my Mom lose her Mom about 9 months before this. They weren't prepared for what they saw in my Mom's face and neither was I.

I didn't think about it until we saw her but with my Aunt's passing not only did she lose her big sister and best friend but she was the only person left in her original family unit. She was the one who witnessed the burials of every one of her family members.

On the day of my Aunt's funeral and burial service, my Mom went up to say goodbye one last time at the casket. I have never heard a cry with so much longing before. I have never seen the ache of a heart on the outside of a person's body before.

I noticed that I was crying heavily. I noticed that my girls were crying heavily too. When I held them tighter to me, I asked them what I could do to make them feel better and they both said in two different ways something along the lines of, "Make Grandma feel better.".

As I squeezed them, my Dad went to my Mom's side and put his arm around her back. We were all trying to bring comfort with our arms to the ones we loved.

My girls still talk about their Great Aunt Marilyn. My Mom still shares stories about the two of them growing up as the only children in their home. We both tell my girls that we hope that they will never have to watch the other get very sick and feel helpless that they can't make them feel better. My Mom still tells them that she misses her big sister and most of the time it is with a smile as a warm memory crosses her mind but sometimes it is with sadness.

Sadness because cancer slowly attacked her big sister. Sadness because every time her big sister went into remission the cancer would find it's way back. Sadness because cancer took the life of her big sister before she even left this world. Sadness because cancer left her without her best friend. Sadness because there isn't a cure for all of the many different kinds of cancer out there and there should be...

This post is sponsored by American Cancer Society
but brought to you from my heart.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Featured Blogger & GIVEAWAY...

I met Sara from Mommy Summers after she left a comment on one of my link ups with the wonderful meme, Pour Your Heart Out, by Shell at Things I Can't Say. When I went onto her blog, my eyes were immediately happy...she had decorated her blog for Christmas. And not with a bunch of tinsel and loud, tacky ornaments and carols playing in the background but with an eye pleasing simplicity.
A Mommy's Thoughts
Her banner tugged at my heart right away
So, since her site had grabbed my attention, I went browsing and found that she makes bows and is selling them on her blog. We all know that a preppy girl loves her some bows, so I contacted Sara and well, we ended up my very first featured blogger and my very first giveaway.

We decided a little Q & A would help everyone get to know Sara better. So, without further ado...

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging as an outlet for all my frustrations. I wanted to "meet" people that were going through the same thing I was while I was TTC my daughter. I also needed to vent about my in-laws. They were (and still do) making my life hell. They lie , start rumors and try to break my husband and I up. I was losing my mind and was afraid I'd snap! (I have an intro post on all that
What is your favorite thing about blogging?
I love blogging. It wasn't until this last month that I really started to be consistent with my blogging. As time has gone by, I have found new friends, and my writing has changed. I think my first posts were more depressing and down. Now I am able to write about my daughter, Miss A. I love that I've been I guess you could say "changed", I try to be positive but honest, not so down and honest. I love the support you can find from other bloggers.

Why did you start making bows?

I started to make bows in an effort to "mend" things with my sister-in-law. She's always asking if I know how to make things, (skirts, watches etc) and asked if I knew how to make bows and I told her, " I do! We could always sell them if we wanted to!" I was trying to be nice. I was hoping if I kept pushing the issue of making bows & selling them, that it would force us to spend time together. I was hoping to be able to forgive her or something, I'm still working on that.
What is a favorite memory about your daughter so far?

Favorite Memory of Miss A? The day she laughed and I caught it on video. I don't have it posted but I love to play it. There's just something about a baby's laugh. I love all her "firsts" though. I was moving pictures from my phone to my computer and while organizing them I got to see the last 9 months in pictures. It was amazing! The day she met her cousin "Stinky" was too sweet! ( Stinky knew her right away. It was like she had been waiting for her to come.

Now, it is time for the **GIVEAWAY**!!! It could make for some very wonderful stocking stuffers, presents for any younger girls in your life or their friends and/or just those extra special accessories that you have been looking for but didn't want to pay for. (We will ship them to you before Christmas.)

Pink & Brown bow -
barrett back
Pink bow with white dots -
alligator back clip

Small Black & White Zebra Print
with pink detail -
alligator back clip
How do you win???
1. Leave a comment below on your favorite bow
2. Visit Sara at Mommy Summers and leave her a comment under today's post and tell her you came from my site
3.  Become a follower on Google Friend Connect (it's free and you would make a fellow blogger very happy!) You will find her GFC all the way down on the bottom right hand side.

I hope you all find this a fun giveaway! The winner will be picked at random with the help of This giveaway will be open until midnight EST, on Wednesday, December 14th, 2011. I will announce the winner on Thursday morning and contact you by email, so please make sure I have a way to contact you.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! xo

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

I Have No Idea...

I have so many blogs that I follow now. One leads to a new one and then that one leads me to another one...

I can almost always find a few that I end up following in the many weekly link ups provided by Things I Can't Say, Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop & Momma Made it Look Easy. I click on a link, read the post attached to the link and then if I like that post...I go through their blog and decide if it is something I want to read regularly.

Sometimes it is the beautifully written words that grab me. Other times I find it is the post filled with snarky comments and humor. On occasion it is a blog about a struggle and trying to deal with it and/or overcome it. Every once in a while it is a mom that parents the same way I do or want to. Every so often I find a blog that covers all of the above.

Today though, I am looking at my own blog. I have no idea what makes people want to be a follower to my blog or visit every once in a while. I know I have written before about how I try not to compare myself to other bloggers but it is hard not to.

I don't feel like my blog is very well written. I don't feel like I move anyone to tears or laughter.

I write like I talk to my friends. They may not be the best chosen words or the snarkiest but they all mean something because when I am a friend...I am a true friend. I will help & support you. I will speak of you with respect & adoration. I will stand up for & defend you.

I am hoping that shows on this blog but I have no idea...

As if you probably can tell I am in a weird place today. Not sure why my head is leading me on this doubtful path but it has.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I'm Selfish Sometimes...

My parents left for a trip abroad on Saturday. They are off to see London, Paris, Barcelona and have a few more stops in between. I am incredibly excited for them. This is their first trip outside the US that hasn't been an island in the Caribbean. However...

I am the baby of my family. I am the only girl in my family. I am VERY close to my parents. I can have some very greedy thoughts in my head at times about them never dying and not only seeing my girls' children but their children too.

My parents at my wedding reception
If I don't want them to ever die...imagine how I feel about them taking a fifteen day world tour right before Christmas. I know it is selfish. I'm not proud of the way I feel but this is the first Christmas season that I have not been working in years and I imagined it so differently.

I pictured sneaking the girls' out of school early for a "dentist appointment" and baking cookies all day at my parents' house while my dad searched for the girls' favorite shows/movies on the TV in the background. ( girls weren't there but my mom and I had a day of baking to get me ready for my very first cookie exchange.)

The cookies my mom & I made
I dreamed of shopping store after with my mom by my side. We would ooh & ahh over clothes for Ash & Bean. We would spot a toy and in a hurried voice say, "Grab that! Ash or Bean would love it!". We would stop for lunch & catch up on life. After recharging we would hit more stores. (Note...we did get one day in before they left but having the one day together made me want more. Told you, I'm selfish.)

Littlest Pet Shop
The girls' favorite!!
I thought about heading to the Christmas Shop that is over an hour away with Chris, Ash & Bean along with my parents to stare at aisle after aisle of decorated themed Christmas trees. I love watching my parents' faces over the girls' excitement more than I do looking at the trees. ( parents took the girls to this very Christmas Shop while Chris and I were in Key West and the girls were staying with them.)
artificial trees
Pre-lit tree section at our favorite Christmas Shop.
(They don't show photos of their decorated ones on their
website unfortunately.)
I envisioned the pride on my parents' faces while Ash had her winter violin & chorus programs. (Note...They asked me to capture it all on film to show them when they get back.)

Ash at her spring violin concert
All of the above makes me selfish. I should be grateful I still have both of my parents in my life and in my girls' lives. I should be thankful that even though the things I had planned happening in my head...all happened, just not in the way that I planned. I should be saying to my friends, "I hope my parents are having a blast! I am so excited for them to be able to do this!", without a "but I really miss them right now during the holiday season and wish they would have gone at another time." right behind it.

So, until they get back I am going to try my best to push the selfish feelings aside and pray that they have an amazing time, see wonderful new things, share lots of love and laughter and come home with lots of memories. (Of course, the first place I want them to stop after touching US soil is my house, with me...because I'm selfish like that!)

I'm linking up with Shell at Things I Can't Say for Pour Your Heart (aka #PYHO on Twitter) and Love Links.

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Favorite Christmas Ornament...

Go back in time with me for a moment, please. It's 2001, I am 25 weeks pregnant with our first daughter, Ash. I have been on strict bed rest since 20 weeks and have been in the hospital more times with this pregnancy that I could (or would want) to keep track of.

I lived about an hour away from my family. A hop, skip and a jump during any other time in my life but with bed rest I was not allowed to be that far away from my doctor's office or hospital.

I spent the week of Thanksgiving in the hospital and was not looking forward to not being at "home" with my family for Christmas. If I was even going to be at "home"...I would most likely be in the hospital. I didn't want people to feel like they would have to wait on me hand and foot. I didn't want to be the center of attention and ruin the holiday. I know people have it and have had it way worse than me and I am thankful I was (am) alive to be even able to celebrate a holiday but it wasn't feeling like a holiday.

I was on a few different medications that made me feel awful. I had to lay on my left side 24 hours a day. I was lonely, tired and scared. This was my first baby and nothing was going how it should be in all of the baby books I had read.

I didn't want Christmas to not feel like Christmas though. That's hard to do when you are in a hospital 5 out of 7 days of the week and your husband is either at work or by your side taking care of you. He didn't have the time to turn our home into the North Pole.

One of my brothers did though...he arrived and brought Christmas with him. He showed up one Saturday morning that I thankfully was home, brought a real tree, tree stand and all of the Christmas decorations one could need. He did all of this without us asking for help. He did all of this without asking us if we needed anything.

He even gave me a special ornament that he bought because he said he couldn't pass it up because he knew I would love it. He was this day, it is my very favorite. It reminds me that he loves me. That he loved me enough to take the time to give my husband and I a Christmas. That he loved me enough to not only buy all of the "usual" things one needs to decorate but the "unique" things to make it feel thoughtful.

I love Woodstock from The Peanuts!
This ornament made one miserable girl on bed rest
very, very, very happy!

What is your favorite ornament and why?

I'm linking up with Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Memories Captured...

We all say, "Time flies!". We think it more than we even say it.

Captured in the photos below are some of my girls' favorite things to do right now. I used this as a fun run because I loved the idea from Galit of These little Waves and Alison of Mama Wants This so much that I decided to make one for each of my girls that is very personal to this year in their lives as Christmas presents to frame and hang in our hallway. I plan on doing this each year now and updating the frames as they grow. I hope when they get older and look back that this will be something very special for them. I already feel in my heart that it is very special to me.

Galit & Alison, Thank you so much for reminding me to stick to my path of slowing down and enjoying each day I have with my girls.


Friday, December 2, 2011

I Love My Girls' Bus Stop...

For the first two years in our "new to us" home, I wasn't able to enjoy the bus stop. The first year I didn't want to pull my girls out of their school 3 months into the year so I did drop off and pick up on my way to/from work. The second year I had to rush to/from the bus stop or rely on my parents to take care of getting the girls on/off the bus to meet my work hour requirements. I was friendly with the parents at the bus stop but I didn't really have the time to develop the relationships I wanted with them.

This is the first year at the bus stop as a SAHM and I am loving it! We have lost one of the moms (who can get you as green as you want to be) as her daughter went off to middle school (it broke my girls' hearts...they loved this girl and having her on the bus) but we have also added a wonderful new mom that moved into the neighborhood.

Yes, there are still days when all of us are a bit rushed but it is a great way to see the faces of my neighbors, get to know them and their kids better and feel a part of the community.

I can seriously go out to the bus stop in my pjs, hair a complete mess, no make-up, in a good mood, bad mood and/or sad mood. I am that comfortable with everyone at the bus stop.

I know that they aren't judging me for how pretty I can look that early in the morning or how put together my mind is before I have had enough caffeine from my Coke Zero.

I know that I can walk out in tears from a rough morning and that they will care enough to hug me, offer help and/or turn my frown upside down.

I know that I can count on everyone of them to make sure my girls are safe and aren't running into the road in front of traffic.

I know that they would be there to welcome my girls home if I couldn't get there in time.

I know that they would take care of my girls if there was an emergency.

I know that having this bus stop gives me peace of mind, security and bonds that I may not find anywhere else.

I am incredibly grateful for my girls' bus stop. I am incredibly grateful that my girls know that this type of bus stop can exist.

Enjoy your weekend everyone!

Share Your Awesome

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Our New Advent Tradition...

About two weeks ago my mother in law called me with a surprise she had for the girls. It sounded like a wonderful idea over the phone. It was even better when I saw it in person.

Our Advent tower
There are 24 little drawers on this Advent tower. They have to turn the tower to find what day of December we are on and in each drawer my mother in law made an ornament for each of my girls. (I only peeked at one drawer and it happened to be the one that had ornaments that were our girls favorite animals.)

My girls have a 4 foot Christmas tree that stands at the top of the stairway in our hallway upstairs near their bedrooms. Last year was the first year for this. The girls made their own paper cut decorations for it without even asking me if I had ornaments for it. (I had a few but I was going to look for more "kid-friendly" ones without hooks and that weren't breakable.)

The girls' bare tree waiting for a
new ornament to be added each
day as they countdown to Christmas!

This year they will be decorating their tree with an ornament each day as we count our way down to Christmas with our Advent tower. They are still sleeping as I write this but they are extremely excited to start this new tradition this morning.

Ash is going to open the boxes marked with the odd days (she will start the fun since she is the oldest...see that, there is an advantage to be the oldest!). Bean will take the even days. The Advent tower stops with day 24 so my mother in law gave each of them a special ornament to open the morning of Christmas before we head down to open their presents from Santa.

Each morning, I will take a picture of the girls opening their box and putting their new ornament on their tree. I will be posting them to my Twitter account at @KristenPGIP. I think this will be a fun way to keep track of the countdown.

Happy December everyone!!!

I'm sharing our new Advent countdown with everyone at Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop. Stop by and check it out! It's a lot of fun and may just put you in the holiday mood you have been waiting for :-)

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